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< February 01-07 | 2008-2009 Diary Page List | January 21 - 26 >

Saturday January 31, 2009

Wallace Emerson

Ice maintenance: 1.30 pm s/f, hand-scrape by rec staff at 4.45 pm, then 8.30 pm s/f.

City Councillor Adam Giambrone visited the rink at 5 pm and got a briefing on the ice maintenance problems. He said he would follow up this coming week.



Weather: High minus 5, low minus 16. Snowy and miserable from noon to 6 pm. Even so there, were a fair number of people at the rink. Today seemed to be "Japanese Day" -- so many Japanese skaters! And many skate rentals.

Ice maintenance: Before 9 a.m. s/f, 12 noon s/f, 4 pm barely scraped, no flood (snowing), 9 p.m. s/f.

Councillor Adam Giambrone visited the rink and was briefed on what works and what doesn't.



Ice maintenance: At 10am the ice was snowy. At 12:15pm a group of hockey players assisted by rec staff did a manual scrape using the big green shovels. At 3pm another group of hockey players did a manual scrape. This took twenty-five minutes of the final hour before pleasure skating. At 3:45pm, the Zamboni finally arrived. It did a scrape but no flood. The workers who came with the Zamboni told a rink user that he can't flood when it's snowing because it leaves the ice bumpy.

It was quiet this morning. From 10 until 1 there were only 4 players at a time on the ice. At 12:15, the players decided to use the green shovels to scrape the ice manually. Shortly after noon, a man and a woman came in to look at the schedule. The woman said she lives down the street and only found out about the rink last year. She said they were interested in pleasure skating. A little later two men came in and asked if it was OK to play hockey. They had been at Dufferin and Wallace but couldn't get on the ice because it was being used by "little kids."

The rink got busier in the afternoon. At 2pm there were 14 players on the ice. At 3, there were 18. Also, at 3 some of the hockey players asked if they could borrow the green shovels to do a manual scrape. The players who asked have already used the shovels many times this year and they knew the drill: push the ice to the rink gates while the building attendant shovels the snow to the side.

The b/a reminded the players that pleasure skating began at 4 and made sure the players knew that cleaning the ice would cut into their remaining hockey time. The players said it was still worth the effort and for twenty-five minutes worked diligently.

Friday January 30, 2009


Weather: high minus 7, low minus 15. A raw day, with a bit of weak sun. Lots of people at the rink during the day. Some of the high schools are having exams now and the students come and skate in between.

Ice maintenance: 9 am s/f, 3.30 pm s/f, 3.30 pm s/f, 9 pm s/f

From Jutta Mason for, to City Councillor Adam Giambrone

Thank you for sending me a copy of your letter about two of your three Ward 18 outdoor rinks. I see that your letter asks that "onsite Parks and Recreation staff will work collaboratively to deal with any maintenance issues as they arise." As far as I know, Parks supervisor Peter Leiss has a policy expressly forbidding on-site recreation staff at Ward 18 outdoor rinks to negotiate ice maintenance directly with their City co-workers from Parks. Everything has to go through him, although he is never onsite, nor does he have a foreman who regularly inspects the ice.

Two points I need clarified:

1. What exactly did Ward 18 rink staff do to get this special non-communication rule, just for them? Was it that they wouldn't stop asking for proper ice maintenance? Is this an instance of "shoot the messenger"? Or are they seen as too involved with the community?

2. According to your assistant, Mr.Leiss said at your meeting that the ice is too thin in three patches at Dufferin Rink because "the community" wants it no thicker than 2 inches. Could you find the documentation for that? Is it perhaps a "broken-telephone" version of the big public meeting four years ago, when the ice was six inches at many outdoor rinks, and the compressors couldn't manage that? I am unaware of any "community request" for thin ice, please ask for it.

The councillor said he'd do a rink tour tomorrow, to try to understand all the ins and outs better. The constraints laid on by the Parks supervisor are the most important issues here; at Wallace Rink it's the lack of a zamboni.

toasting marshmallows at the rink-side campfire

Friday Night Supper seemed very sweet tonight. It's also quite odd. For one thing, skaters -- young and old -- may be changing into their skates, or eating their supper in skates, next to people who don't come to skate, only to eat, who in their turn sit next to youth who wouldn't get near a lamb stew or a vegetarian cornbread chili, and yet who look strangely peaceful, in all that jumble of different purposes. This was another evening when it was hard not to think back of the nastyness of Fridays in the early days, before families came back to the rink. Friday evening was when the "losers," who didn't have a club date, would try to burn checker pieces in the woodstove, or shove and curse one another in the rink entryway.

At one point tonight, a little group of three, just at the awkward early adolescent age, were scowling in the corner, and one of them spat on the floor. His friends looked at him and both said, "you're so stupid." He took it, and didn't say anything back. The context made it obvious that his friends were right -- why argue? So they all got up and went outside to play shinny instead.

When the rink was ready to close, rink friend Will Lam came in and so did his brother Brian, who used to be a 'regular' until he went away to school. They were talking with another regular player, making plans for a real pond shinny game at her farm for Sunday. They said that some of the skaters who met playing on the "pond" hockey side at Dufferin Rink have become friends. That's what parks are meant for -- people putting themselves in the way of friendship, so it can find them. Cities are big and can be so impersonal, and there need to be places that make that bigness smaller. Like outdoor rinks. And park campfires, such as the one beside the rink tonight.


Wallace Emerson

Ice maintenance: 11.15 am s/f, 8.15 s/f. There was going to be no second resurfacing, because the flying squad zamboni was out of service. But there were such bad grooves in the ice at Wallace that the zamboni was brought up from Dufferin and they did an evening s/f.

Letter to from City Councillor Adam Giambrone, Friday Jan 30 2009

Two thirds of the way into the rink season, it is discovered that there is in fact a zamboni allocated for Wallace. It has apparently never been placed there because of concerns about vandalism.

A flying squad staff person said some time ago that the flying squad zamboni is stored up the hill at Giovanni Caboto Rink at night, inside the fence. (see photo below). So what's missing at Wallace is only a fence. Could Parks arrange to rent a "modu-lock"-type fence today, and have it installed at Wallace? There is a perfect spot for it right by the entrance pathway. It's already partially plowed and would need a maximum of an hour of a city plow to prepare the site for the fence. (See photo below, from this morning)

In case there is an objection to not having the fence secured by posts into the ground, may I suggest that such fences are commonly erected around on-site roadwork construction equipment, without puncturing the pavement to anchor them.

Could you find out whether this can be done?

fenced outside zamboni storage area at Giovanne Caboto

perfect spot for storing fenced zamboni

Reply from Chris Gallop, Councillor Giambrone's assistant, Friday January 30 2009

While it would of course be ideal if this could be installed today, we are not able to commit to that at this point. The Councillor has asked Parks to take a close look at your idea for a fence and get back to us as soon as possible. Additionally, he has told them that he doesn't care how they solve this problem (whether it be a tent, or a fence, or an igloo for that matter) as long as they solve it quickly. Once there is more news we will let the community know.

Thursday January 29, 2009


Weather: A few snowflurries in the afternoon, but not much. High -2, low -8. Ice maintenance: Thin ice on hockey pad again. 9.30s/f, 12pm s/f (not pleasure-skating side because of school groups), 3pm scrape, 5 scrape, 7:30 s/f heavy flood and patch work done on hockey side. 9pm pleasure-skating side first then hockey s/f heavy flood.

There was a meeting in the morning, at City Councillor Adam Giambrone's office, to try to straighten out some of the maintenance issues. It may not have gone that well. Late in the evening, the Councillor sent over a copy of a letter to PF&R general manager Brenda Librecz, with many people cc'd on it.


Wallace Emerson

Ice maintenance: 9.30 am s/f, manual by rink users and rec staff 5pm, zamboni 6.30 s/f

Councillor Adam Giambrone held a meeting at city hall with Parks supervisor Peter Leiss, Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro, and rink coordinator Mayssan Shuja, about ice maintenance and communication issues.

From a letter from Councillor Giambrone to Brenda Patterson, general manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation, January 29 2009:

''* This rink will be a priority for the flying squad

  • Minimum 3 cleanings per day
  • Maintenance will be properly spaced out throughout the day
  • Whenever possible, there will be maintenance in the evening as that is when there is the heaviest usage at this rink''

I request that PFR provide me with a plan in writing as soon as possible for how you are going to resolve the acknowledged deficiencies in current rink maintenance and consistently meet the above notes service levels. Should PFR continue to have difficult throughout the remainder of the rink season regularly meeting these minimum maintenance standards in my ward, I would like to have weekly meetings with senior PFR management staff until the problems are resolved to my satisfaction.

Additionally, I request that PFR begin work immediately on the following steps, identified at today's meeting, as being longer term solutions to all these maintenance problems:

  • Fast-track the purchase and installation of a secure zamboni tent for Wallace Emerson Rink and, once installed, have the appropriate equipment and staff on site to handle maintenance at this rink. This needs ot be accomplished before the end of the current rink season;
  • Begin design work and cost estimates for a permanent zamboni garage at Wallace Emerson and report to Budget Committee, as part of next year's budget cycle, so appropriate funding can be secured;
  • Allocate or hire qualified staff to create4 a second flying squad team, so maintenance is improved at rinks that rely on this system
  • Review and identify what additional equipment, and onsite equipment storage facilities, is needed at the various AIRs to improve maintenance levels, and have these capital investments considered by the Budget Committee as part of next year's budget process.

Thank you for your attention to these issues. I look forward to your prompt response.

Tuesday January 27, 2009

Christie Pits

At 10.30, most of the large "Level Two Beginner" shinny hockey group was coming off the ice. Some stayed on, hoping to keep playing until the lights go off at 11. They looked exhilarated. Shinny hockey often does that, on a nice night with a black sky overhead and -- at Christie -- the big skyline, with the CN Tower tall and blinking to the southeast.

Lots of talk about the e-mails they've sent off to Councillor Janet Davis, asking for the Councillor to meet with us. Lots of puzzlement about the poor ice quality at the single pad rinks, like Christie. "It's rough, but then you have to expect that outdoors." "Actually, outdoor rinks can be really smooth, but they do need more than once or twice a day maintenance." ...And so on.

The Christmas tree is still up, but the gift-wrap on the pop machine is off. Now you can clearly see the "out of order" sign on it. Sad.

Ice maintenance: 11 am, messy, problem with blade, rows of bumpy ice, 5.30 pm s/f



Weather: Started out at -14 this morning, and rose to -5 by evening. A beautiful, sunny day.

Ice maintenance: 9am s/f, 1:45pm s/f, 3:15pm s/f, 7pm s/f, 9pm

There was a big graffiti tag on the front of the rink house. That kind of thing gets taken care of FAST. A "Goodbye Graffiti" truck came up and a worker sprayed some kind of "green" chemical on the wall, and -- magic -- the wall was clean again. The worker grinned when his picture was taken -- maybe he was kind of proud.

Mary Sylwester, the park's vegan cook

"Goodbye Graffiti" truck

The rink was packed again with kids from Queen Victoria and Dewson schools. Those schools know how to have fun. One teacher came to the zamboni cafe afterwards and bought 27 cookies for her students. Babies were crawling in between the students as they helped each other lace their skates in the rink house. The old men who usually play cards near the woodstove in the afternoons took one look, though, and turned around. No room for old men today.

Tuesday is shopping day, and also muffin-making day. Mary, the park's vegan cook, had to prepare the banana muffins in the zamboni kitchen (off the garage) because there was no room to move in the rink house.

The zamboni driver who's been so mad (about having to flood the ice an extra time, when it was getting thin last week) did not come back today, by request. To replace him, the daytime driver was asked to stay on and work a double shift. He's a cheerful man, and he shrugged his shoulders. "This will pay for Christmas."

watching the zamboni with cookies

ice like glass

The thin spots are very much improved since all those extra floods. And the pleasure-skating pad looked like a mirror after the zamboni driver got done with the four p.m. resurfacing. The first kids on the ice after the flood said: "this ice is really slippery!"

highest snow hills ever

time to get a woodstove in here

The snow hills have become enormous -- maybe bigger than they've ever been before. The loader was there sometime today and pushed the snow back to make these giant hills. The Parks staff try to clear the centre of the basketball court to make room for the zamboni when it goes out there to dump the snow. At the southwest corner of the basketball court there's an igloo of sorts, or at least, an ice house, with lots of room inside, and multiple entryways and windows. The kids say it's been there for three or four days -- nobody knows who made it.

There was a big turnout for women's shinny hockey tonight, many people talking about the letter to Councillor Janet Davis. It's a bit unnerving to go and collect e-mail addresses and talk to strangers, and yet it always seems to turn out better than I expect. Everybody has a story. Suddenly it seems that the room is more familiar, there's more connection among people than at first, more good will than one could have hoped for.

Beth cleaning the zamboni cafe floor

At the very end, a new rink staff person was washing the floor in the kitchen. There are some frayed kitchen tiles on the floor, stuck on top of good rubber rink flooring. We tore some more up tonight, and then the rink staff washed off the marks left by the old tile edges. Last thing in the building after a busy day -- a big trash bag with some old tiles, a pail with soapy water, and a rink staff person, leaving everything clean and ready for the next day's arrivals. That building must be tired, after all those many different people -- it gets to be quiet for a few hours, and dark.


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< February 01-07 | 2008-2009 Diary Page List | January 21 - 26 >

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